CHICAGO (CBS) — In the wake of the school shooting massacre in Newtown, Conn., Mayor Rahm Emanuel made his strongest call yet for an assault weapons ban on Monday, while police Supt. Garry McCarthy also suggested having top police brass help review security measures in place at the city’s public schools.
“It’s time as a city we have an assault weapon ban. It’s time we as a state have an assault weapon ban. It’s time we as a country have an assault weapon ban. And I would hope that the leadership in Congress would now have a vote of conscience,” Emanuel said in an address to the latest graduating classes of police recruits and police sergeants.
WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the mayor said it’s time for an assault weapons ban at the city, state, and federal levels.
“As somebody who stood by President Clinton’s side to make sure that we had a ban on assault weapons, I do not want to see more weapons on the street, more guns on the street, that make your job all that more difficult,” he said. “It’s time that we as a city, and we as a state, and we as a country make sure that you get backed up. We can’t just stand behind you and say ‘We support our men and women in the law enforcement community,’ and then not have the laws on the books that help you do your job every day. And it’s time as a city we have an assault weapons ban.”
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said he supports the call for an assault weapons ban, calling it “common sense,” but he warned there are other accompanying issues, like banning high-capacity ammunition clips.
McCarthy sat down with CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine to talk about his priorities in the wake of the Newtown massacre.
The superintendent said he supports an assault weapons ban and other tighter controls on guns, but as for how to help individual schools feel assured they are safe, McCarthy suggested taking another look at the emergency plans already in place at every public school in the city.
“Each district commander can have a security assessment done of every single school, and we can make recommendations as to how to insure that the students are safe,” McCarthy said.
He lamented that the public debate over gun control sparked by other mass shootings – such as those in Columbine, Colo., and at Virginia Tech – have resulted in no significant changes to the nation’s gun laws.
“This is just an age-old, exhausting cycle that we seem to go through,” he said. “We keep going through these things, and we keep doing nothing about it, and a tragedy like this really needs to wake the consciousness of this country to the craziness of gun violence.”
Asked if he thinks it has in this case – when 20 of the 26 victims were children ages 6 or 7 – McCarthy said, “it may have, but it seems to wear off every other time.”
In addition to backing the mayor’s call for an assault weapons ban, McCarthy also called on state lawmakers to require those who buy guns legally file a report whenever one of their guns is lost, stolen, or transferred. He said that would shut down the illegal market for firearms, and get at least some of the guns out of the wrong hands.
The mayor worked in the White House under President Bill Clinton, when a federal assault weapons ban was passed in 1994. It expired 10 years later, and Emanuel said it’s time Congress had a vote to reinstate it.
“If we want to see your job succeed, and we want to see you succeed, that means we must do everything in our power – which means more police, but kids and guns and gangs off the street,” Emanuel said.
Multiple attempts have been made to renew the federal assault weapons ban, with no success. Efforts to enact a state ban on assault weapons in Illinois also have failed in Springfield.
Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. joined the call for stronger gun-control laws.
A new CBS poll shows 57 percent of Americans back stricter gun laws, the highest percentage in a decade. But less than half – 42 percent — think stricter gun laws would have prevented the violence at sandy hook elementary.